The living room is rarely used for its original purpose, says Michael Love, interior designer and president of Quantum Design Group.

"In the typical living room, you may walk in and find a sofa against one wall, a breakfront or bookcase against another, and a few tables `anchored' to chairs or a sofa. While this arrangement is serviceable, it isn't necessarily cozy or interesting."She said that by changing obvious traffic patterns and experimenting with natural focal points, you can make even the most traditional living room more visually exciting and comfortable.

For years now, Love has analyzed the traffic patterns of homes and businesses. She feels that many humdrum rooms originate with homeowners' uncertainty about decorating.

"I often find that people take the easy way out by lining furniture against walls or lumping it together in the middle of a room," she said. "While this is one solution, it usually isn't the one that best contributes to visual excitement or a congenial flow of traffic."

For rearranging the living room accompanying this story, Love makes the following suggestions:

- Look at the focal points of the room - whether it is a beautiful view, an expansive bay window or a fireplace. In this particular living room, Love chose the fireplace and windows.

- Try to arrange your pieces to create visual interest and make the most of that area. Love has moved the sofa and bench away from the wall to create more conversation space and take greater advantage of both fireplace and windows. Placing the seating area in the center of the room forces traffic to go around, instead of between, the conversation area. And moving chairs away from the fireplace allows traffic to pass between the two doors without passing between sofa and chairs.

- Add originality to the room by using stacked wicker chests instead of a standard end table. Bring excitement and color to the neutral furnishings by introducing pillows, throws and quilts. Flower arrangements, books and a bowl of apples add brightness and charm.

Love pointed out that today's home furnishings make wear and tear less of a concern when designing a room. She said that Monsanto Company has come out with a carpet that is not only stain-resistant but it also fights matting.

Monsanto's Wear-Dated carpet with Traffic Control Fiber System is a patented combination of advanced generation nylon and high-shrink acrylic fibers. The acrylic fibers wrap around the nylon and shrink tightly during heat setting to create a fiber that helps resist end-fraying - a primary cause of carpet matting. Research showed that this patented dual-fiber combination bounced back and looked better than comparable nylon samples after the same amount of foot traffic.

And this system not only features durability and stain resistance, but it also provides elegance for one of the home's most important rooms.